A COUNCIL has been granted thousands in a bid to give part of a Test Valley town a fresh new look.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has been granted £60,000 to trial assemblies which will gather dozens of residents to examine how area south of Romsey town centre can be redeveloped.

Letters will go out to 10,000 households on September 30 inviting people to register their interest and, from those who respond, around 50 people will be chosen to take part in the citizen assembly.

They will look at how the area around Crosfield Hall, Broadwater Road, and the bus station can be given a fresh look.

Their recommendations will then be incorporated into a masterplan for the area south of the town centre.

The assembly will be given key facts, figures and statistics as well as evidence from subject matter experts and community representatives.

They will then consider all of the evidence and make a recommendation to the Romsey Future Partnership and TVBC to help shape a major planning document for the area, which will set out what they want to achieve and guide developers.

The masterplan for the south of the town centre is being progressed by Nexus Planning and Perkins and Will architects who will also be providing evidence to the assembly.

Romsey Future chair, Cllr Nick Adams-King, said: “It is brilliant that we are about to embark on this pioneering work in Romsey to test the water for citizens’ assemblies.

"We have heard through our Romsey Future consultations that people are passionate about improving the south of the town centre. The citizens’ assembly will give residents a real opportunity to play a pivotal role in the next stage of consultation which will determine how the redevelopment of this area will look.

“This very much builds on the work undertaken by Romsey Future over the past 18 months relating to the south of the town centre and is an incredible opportunity for Romsey Future and the council to learn from and share our experience with others as national pathfinders.

"We are really excited to be able to take part in this innovative process and are looking forward to watching this play out over the coming months.”

Test Valley Borough Council, in association with Romsey Future, is one of three organisations across the country chosen to take part in a national pilot to trial citizen assemblies.

The assembly will take place in Romsey over the weekends of November 9 and 10 and November 23 and 24.

The programme, run by the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will see the council explore the role that groups of Test Valley residents can contribute to big issues facing the council.

The authority was selected due to its track record of seeking to transform democracy locally through projects and initiatives such as Romsey Future and Andover Vision.

Test Valley Borough Council is also being supported by a number of consultant organisations including the Democratic Society, the Royal Society of Arts, My Society and Involve.